Post by Sheena McKinney, Executive Assistant to President, Matt Heinz.

We can learn a lot from top business leaders– Especially the ones who are getting things done.  It’s safe to say they would all tell you they didn’t get where they are on their own, and as all good leaders do, they give credit where credit is due.

Since Matt kicked off our every Thursday “How I Work” Series less than a year ago, he’s asked 28 business leaders (so far) what have become the standard dozen or so “How I Work” questions (Modeled after one of his favorite recurring features in Inc Magazine as well as via Lifehacker’s This Is How I Work Series).

Gleaned for you here (in the order they appeared) are the answers to “What is the best advice you’ve ever been given?”.  The answers (and the sources) may surprise you.  To see the answers to all the questions from all 28 business leaders, click  here.

Best Advice Ever

Jonathan FarringtonSenior Partner – Jonathan Farrington & Associates (Sneak Peek!  See Jonathan’s full post this coming Thursday)
Never go back! It was sound advice from one of my closest mentors. And he was right – nothing is ever as we remember it. Like those balmy summer days when we were young, did it ever rain? Of course it did, but we choose only to remember happy times, and so we should. I believe that what comes next is always better, if we choose to make it so – if we can discard all the hurt and the pain and the poor results from the past. But, we have to be prepared to let it all go.

Allen Gannett, CEO – TrackMaven
Care Less about the short-term

Marshall Kirkpatrick
, CEO – Littlebird
Trust your own judgement

Rebecca LovellStartup Liaison – City of Seattle
No matter how busy you are, don’t skip the 45 minute workout in the morning– the days you’re busiest are the days you need it most (from my mentor in grad school, Phyllis Campbell, then CEO of the Seattle Foundation, now Vice Chair of JPMC)

David Niu, Founder – TINYhr
So many to choose one. But one of my favorites is, “If you won the lottery, would you still be doing what you’re doing?” If not, then it may be an opportunity to reflect and focus your energies on your passions. At the end of the day, the #1 regret in life is not having the courage to live your own life because you always led the life that others expected of you.

Amanda Kahlow, Founder – 6Sense Inc.
Here are a few of my favorite bits of wisdom that have been imparted to me:
• Nothing is permanent.
• Life is about the journey, not the destination.
• You control what happens to you! You are your thoughts, so think positive thoughts.

Liz Pearce, CEO – LiquidPlanner
Feed the eagles, starve the turkeys

Ken Kroque, Founder –
The best advice I ever received was to stay at one job for at least five years and sink down roots—don’t be a butterfly.  You don’t grow fast enough.  That’s in the business world.

Mike Volpe, CMO – Hubspot
Hiring is the most important thing you do. The founder of the company I worked at before HubSpot said this often, but it took me a while to really understand how true it was. Now, having grown the HubSpot marketing team from 0 to 75 people, I know how important hiring is. The ramifications of that advice are the important thing – you should spend a lot of your time sourcing candidates and interviewing and background checking, and you should teach those skills to your managers and make them part of your criteria for promotion. Never promote someone to a senior role without proof they can hire well.

Tony Jaros, Chief Research Officer – SiriusDecisons
Just because you’re correct in a given situation doesn’t mean you’re right. My dad once said that to me, and it’s taken more than 40 years for it to begin to sink in.

Gerhard Gschwandtner, Publisher – Selling Power Magazine
Zig Ziglar once told me during an interview, “Success is not measured by what you have done compared to others, but compared to what you’re capable of doing.” And Tony Robbins shared with me, “Everything you need to succeed is within us now.” Every day I try to connect with my inner Google.

Jesse Noyes, Sr. Director of Content Marketing – Kapost
“Don’t compare yourself to others. They’ll either be better than you or worse. Either way, you’re disappointed.” That was from my dad. Probably the best advice I could give anyone.

Gregg Greene, Sr. Director of Marketing – Seattle Mariners
Tom Brokaw provided a great pearl during his commencement speech at the UW back in ’95:  “It’s easy to make a buck. It’s hard to make a difference.”

Amy Bohutinsky, CMO – Zillow
Spencer Rascoff (Zillow CEO) always says, “hire better than you.” Zillow’s marketing team is now over 70 people – and I would have never been able to do some of the things we’ve done without chucking the ego and finding people who are smarter, faster and more creative than I am. My job is to now empower and enable them to do their best work.

Joe Chernov, VP of Content – Hubspot
It sort of depends on the circumstance, but I recently found myself telling my son advice my father gave me when I quit wrestling: “Quitting is a slippery slope. You’ll be shocked at how easy it becomes once you start.”

David Spark, Founder – Spark Media Solutions
Always do an assignment right away. Don’t wait and do it at the last minute. That way you’ll be available when the next project comes up.

Doug Kessler, Co-Founder – Velocity Partners
“Don’t be such a sarcastic asshole.” by my best mate, Rex.  We were eighteen.  He was right.

Meagen EisenbergVP of Demand Generation – DocuSign
Happiness is wanting what you have.  And do whatever job you do to the best of your abilities – whether you are a nanny, waitress, tutor, teacher, life guard, IT engineer or Marketing exec – which I have been all of.

Ardath Albee, CEO – Marketing Interactions
“Whatever you do, do it right or don’t bother.”  My dad told me this when I was 12. I’ve always tried to live up to it.

DJ WaldowDigital Marketing Evangelist – Marketo
This too shall pass

Mike Damphousse, CEO/CMO – Green Leads
Always be optimistic. Almost to the extreme. It allows you to deal with the tough issues with a better attitude.

Dan Waldschmidt, Author – Edgy Conversations
My dad told a long time ago: “Just because other people tell you you can’t do something doesn’t mean it’s true.” We pretty much do what we want.

Jason MillerSenior Content Marketing Manager – LinkedIn
I will give you two:  1. “Why don’t you start a blog?” – My wife circa 2009 2. “Bring solutions, not problems” -Maria Pergolino during my first few weeks at Marketo years ago

Craig Rosenberg, Co-Founder, TOPO, Author of Funnelholic
Always keep your eye on the “nut of your job”. There will be distractions like meetings, etc and frankly things you would rather do like reading a blog post, etc that you can justify as being part of your professional life. But, at the end of the day, you have to understand the nut of your job, e.g. what you are expected to do, and make absolutely sure you deliver on it. Then tell everyone you delivered on it.

Joe Pulizzi, Founder – Content Marketing Institute
If you try something and fail, you are vastly better off than if you had tried nothing and succeeded. (back of a sugar packet I found when I was 6 years old).

John Cook, Co-Founder – Geekwire
Golazo and Cranium founder Richard Tait: “If you’re not having fun, you’re not doing it right.”  Roger Cook (my dad): “Don’t do anything stupid.”  Venture Capitalist: Tom Huseby: “You hang around long enough, you will probably have a win.”

Carlos Hidalgo, CEO – The Annuitas Group
One of my best friends and mentors who I once worked for said “don’t be afraid to disappoint someone daily.”  When he first told me this I laughed and didn’t realize he was serious.  He went onto explain that if you are worried about disappointing people, you won’t accomplish much.  The message was make the right decisions based on the information you have and move on.  If in the end, it was the wrong decision, learn from it and move on.  His entire message was as a leader you cannot base your decision making on how upset or pleased.

Matt Heinz, President – Heinz Marketing
Life is short, work with people you enjoy.  That and relationships are at the heart of everything.

What is the best advice you’ve ever been given?